Few all-around car companies are absolutely as bent to go their own way as Mazda. The Japanese cast has carved out a acceptability over the years for actuality adventurous to advance the boundaries aback it comes to developing avant-garde technologies and beat new models.
And as the aggregation celebrates its centenary – accepting been founded, accept it or not, as a constructed cork architect in 1920 – now seems like an adapted time to pay accolade to some of its cogent successes.
Over the afterward pages, we’ve best out 10 cars that authenticate how the Hiroshima-based accouterments has consistently punched aloft its weight on the all-around car market. In accession we’ve called four models that ability be beneath familiar, but allegorize that Mazda has never been abashed to be different.
Agree or disagree with our selections? Let us apperceive via the accepted channels.
Thirty-one years on from the barrage of the first-generation MX-5 at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, it’s absurd to enlarge the access of this roadster. Arriving during a decidedly dormant aeon for affordable sports cars, it signalled the activation of the roadster, sparking a bulk of imitators, and went on to almanac a actor sales – over four ancestors – by 2016. In hindsight it seems amazing that its simple blueprint of bargain accumulation and 50:50 weight distribution, aggressive by British sports cars of the fifties and sixties, was such a adumbration at the time. This car reminded the apple that befitting things simple could bear a life-affirming drive.
For such a almost baby aggregation in all-around terms, Mazda has had some aloft successes to bark about in motorsport. Arguably none is added absorbing than its achievement at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours, aback the four-rotor-engined 787B took the chequered banderole in the easily of Britain’s Johnny Herbert (alongside Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler).
It was a arresting win; at the time, the 787B was the aboriginal non-piston-engined car to celebration at Le Mans, and cipher in appearance will anytime balloon the altered complete the rotary ability delivered. The actuality that Mazda was the aboriginal Japanese aggregation to win Le Mans – and the alone one until Toyota in 2018 – added to its significance.
You may not accept heard of the Eunos Cosmo, but you should have. Developed in the backward eighties, this gigantic 2 2 coupé was advised as Mazda’s flagship: the finest rotary car anytime created.
It featured a groundbreaking engine; a twin-turbo amateur rotor – the alone one to accomplish assembly – and a accuracy that Mazda claimed was on a par with a V12. The advantageous few who accept apprenticed one say the ride is commensurable to a Rolls-Royce’s, and with beat tech for the era such as GPS and a touchscreen, it was the aspect of luxury. But again the Japanese abridgement failed, so the bung was pulled with alone a few thousand built.
Mazda 323 AWD
As able-bodied as achievement at Le Mans (opposite), there was added cogent motorsport success in the Apple Rally Championship, which Mazda competed in from 1985 to 1991.
The rear-wheel-drive Group B RX-7 accomplished on the belvedere in the 1985 Acropolis Rally, but it was the Group A 323 AWD that larboard an enduring mark. While the car’s 1.6-litre turbocharged agent was underpowered compared to its 2.0-litre turbo rivals, the 323 handled exceptionally, and claimed its aboriginal achievement in the 1987 Swedish Rally in the easily of Timo Salonen. Ingvar Carlsson took added wins in Sweden and New Zealand in 1989.
The technology that has authentic Mazda over its aboriginal 100 years is actually the rotary engine. Smaller and lighter than a acceptable agent agent – and with a aloft power-to-weight arrangement – it’s an ideal band-aid for sports cars.
And so it accepted with the 1967 Cosmo Sport, which was Mazda’s aboriginal archetypal to use Felix Wankel’s altered powerplant. The coupé boasted admirable curve and was a dream to drive, actuality characterised by the engine’s characteristic howl. Alone 1,200 were fabricated and aloof a scattering awash alfresco Japan, and this aberration is reflected in its bulk now – we begin alone two appropriate examples for auction in the UK, with prices starting at £70,000.
Mazda’s first-ever commuter agent was a bold banker in its built-in Japan aback it launched in 1960. Avant-garde technology was at the R360’s core, with a 16bhp four-stroke engine, rather than the two-stroke units that were accepted in its rivals. It additionally acclimated a cogent bulk of magnesium admixture in its architecture to abate weight.
A badly fashionable architecture and a lower amount than competitors ensured it became a accident hit with an upwardly adaptable Japanese population. The R360 is still captivated in aerial admire at Mazda, and was acclimated as architecture afflatus for the brand’s afresh appear centenary appropriate editions.
Unlike added Japanese brands, Mazda has little analeptic full-blooded in the UK, but it’s a altered adventure elsewhere. One of the added notable is the Rotary Pickup (or Repu), awash in the US and Canada in the aboriginal seventies. It had a 110bhp Wankel engine, and as the alone rotary analeptic anytime made, is coveted by collectors.
While best assemblage would accede the MX-5 to be Mazda’s signature car, for some the archetypal that sets the criterion is the RX-7.
It awash added than 800,000 examples beyond three ancestors amid 1978 and 1992 – the company’s aboriginal accomplishment sports car and the acknowledged rotary-engined archetypal ever. The aboriginal bearing was an iconic design, aggregate acute coupé administration with a wedge-shaped front. But it was how it collection that was a revelation, with the advanced mid-engined blueprint carrying near-perfect weight distribution.
Arguably the best remembered adaptation is the Mk3 FD (above), a 236bhp twin-turbo abstruseness that delivered admirable administration and 0-62mph in aloof 5.2 seconds.
A Japan-only Kei car launched in 1992 beneath the Autozam sub-brand, the AZ-1 had acclaimed administration and featured amazing gullwing doors. It was advised by some of the aggregation abaft the aboriginal MX-5, but it struggled for sales due to a college amount than its rivals, the Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino.
Ignore the antic name – this was a applied minivan that acquired account over assorted generations, decidedly the Friendee motorhome adaptation in the UK. The Bongo Sky Lounge (below) featured a solar-powered blast arrangement via panels on the roof.
The best contempo archetypal to be powered by a rotary engine; will it be the last? In abounding means the RX-8 – awash amid 2004 and 2012 – captured altogether the pros and cons of Mazda’s signature technology.
On the additional side, the RX-8 was a dream to drive, with a joyful, high-revving 1.3-litre two-rotor engine, a counterbalanced anatomy and council that provided aberrant feedback. The actuality the four-door, four-seat coupé looked so acceptable was a bonus.
But the RX-8 accepted to be a high-maintenance partner; a cardinal of believability issues, boundless oil burning and afflictive active costs put abounding off.
The company’s first-ever vehicle, launched in 1931, was a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw that was acclimated by farmers and baby businesses. Various versions followed, and Mazda three-wheelers were acclimated abundantly in the clean of Hiroshima afterwards WWII.
Building abundant baby ancestors cars has consistently been a Mazda ability and that continues to this day, with the accepted Mazda 3 nominated in the final three of the 2020 Apple Car of the Year.
This attitude can be traced aback decades to the Familia of 1964, but arguably the best notable aspirant in this chic was the first-generation 323. The rear-wheel-drive bear was developed almost bound in acknowledgment to the oil crisis of the aboriginal seventies, and accustomed in 1977. It awash acerb beyond the apple and became a hit in the US, area it was abundantly marketed as the GLC, or Abundant Little Car.
As with abounding companies, Mazda has accepted the SUV abnormality with relish. Beyond the globe, it currently sells the CX-3, CX-30, CX-4, CX-5, CX-8 and CX-9, with the electric MX-30 on its way and addition new crossover planned for the US, too. But while acknowledging the trailblazing role played by the ahead-of-its-time CX-7 in 2006, Mazda’s accepted SUV success can trace its birth aback to the aboriginal CX-5, which accustomed in 2012.
It heralded the addition of the brand’s much-lauded Kodo – Soul of Motion – architecture accent and additionally its avant-garde Skyactiv tech, which bargain emissions after compromising active dynamics. The CX-5 set a aerial bar for boilerplate bunched SUVs as a agog active machine.
2023 Mazda RX7 Prices – 2023 Mazda RX7
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